Laura Thweatt Blazes the course at the 15th Humana Rock N Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon, from Dan Cruz/RNR

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Thweatt_LauraFL-VaBeach15.jpgLaura Thweatt, photo by PhotoRun.net

The Humana RNR Virginia Beach Half Marathon is one of those events that showcases the growth of the sport, and the vitality of our sport.

The opportunities for elite American runners to get a chance to race and make a few bucks is a good thing too.

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Laura Thweatt Blazes the Course at the 15th Humana Rock 'n' Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon

University of Auburn All-American Elkanah Kibet wins half-marathon; Labor Day weekend running event attracts more than 15,000 entrants; Sheryl Crow to headline post race concert on Sunday night at the 5th Street Beach Stage

VIRGINIA BEACH - September 6, 2015 - Ever since 2001, the coastal city of Virginia Beach, Virginia has played host to the Humana Rock 'n' Roll Virgina Beach Half Marathon. At this year's 15th anniversary event, Laura Thweatt was crowned the women's champion.

The 26-year-old broke the tape at 13th Street on the oceanfront boardwalk, in one hour, 12 minutes, and 59 seconds. Thweatt said she enjoyed the rain and the cooler-than-average temperatures out on the course in the race's beginning miles.

"It was great," she said of her performance. "I kept on trucking. The crowds and the course were awesome." Thweatt, a Colorado resident, said she loved running along the ocean.

"I'm all about the beach," she admitted with a chuckle.

Thweatt recently won the 2015 USA Cross-Country championships and led Sunday's race from wire to wire. The 26-year-old said her main focus out on the roads was to catch groups of male runners ahead of her.

"I didn't want to be all out there by myself," she said.

Thweatt was using the Virginia Beach race to tune up for her debut marathon later this fall. Second and third place in the women's race were awarded to Japan's Yuko Wantanabe (1:20:13) and North Carolina's Natalie Lawrence (1:21:18) respectively.

University of Auburn All-American Elkanah Kibet won the men's race, coming across the finish line in 1:05:22. Over 30 seconds behind the Kenyan native was defending champion Jeffrey Eggleston, who ran 1:06:01 for the 13.1 miles.

KibetLedsEggleston1a-VaBeach15.jpgElkanah Kibet overtakes Jeffrey Eggleston, photo by PhotoRun.net

After the race, Eggleston, a University of Virginia graduate, recalled the challenging windy conditions. The 30-year-old just returned from the World Championships in Beijing where he competed in the marathon, but didn't finish.

"I had a disappointing performance there," he said of the World Championships. "I went out a little over my head in Beijing. I was in search of a breakthrough and didn't go out conservative, so I was looking for a rebound here in Virginia Beach to defend my title. I put in all this hard work over the summer, and it's never easy. You got to respect the race, and you got to respect the competition."

Eggleston said he tried to say with Kibet from the start, and despite his second-place showing, he admits he had a great time out on the Virginia Beach course.

"I look forward to what's next," he said. Ohio's Isaiah Bragg finished third well behind Eggleston in 1:09:25.

A 5K was held in conjunction with Sunday's race. Sixteen-year-old Josh Spare, a Virginia Beach resident, won in 16:47, while Audrey Perlow Verdirame was the women's champion (22:12).

Virginia Beach has always been a welcoming and fun destination for runners. At this year's event, 15,000 competitors from all 50 states and 15 countries took part in the race that winds throughout the scenic beach town. Grammy-award winner Sheryl Crow will perform for runners at the 5th Street Beach Stage at the race's finish-line concert on Sunday night.

"15 years ago, with only the rarest exception, half marathons were just local training races for marathons and then came Rock 'n' Roll Virginia Beach, the original destination half-marathon! It laid the foundation for the half-marathon to become the most popular and fastest growing distance in running and we are thrilled to celebrate this milestone in the event's history," said Tracy Sundlun, SVP of the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series and one of the event's founders.

The 16th Humana Rock 'n' Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon is scheduled for September 4, 2016. A special regestration presale price of $50 is available for one week at RunRocknRoll.com/Virginia-Beach.

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